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Strategic Posture Review: Ukraine

Monday, May 16, 2011

Despite having enormous natural and human resource endowments, Ukraine has experienced severe difficulties during the past two decades transitioning from a Soviet republic subordinate to Moscow to an independent country with a democratic political system, effective liberal market economy and foreign and defense policies that meet the country's unique national security requirements. Many of Kiev's particular foreign policy concerns result from Ukraine's status as both a bridge and a front-line state situated between the former Soviet empire and Western and Central Europe.

Ukraine has increasingly tried to turn that status to its advantage. For now, though, it has yet to strike a comfortable balance. Most Western governments have clearly circumscribed their military, economic and other commitments to Ukraine, which remains outside NATO and the European Union. In contrast, many Russians are intensely concerned with the fate of Ukraine -- partly because some Russians still question whether Ukraine can or should be a separate country independent of Russia itself. Although unlikely at present, Ukraine remains acutely vulnerable to the emergence of a nationalist government in Russia that might seek to reclaim some or all of its territory. ...

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